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The Song of Hiawatha

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,681 Ratings  ·  125 Reviews
The infectious rhythm of The Song of Hiawatha has drawn millions to the shores of Gitchee Gumee. Once there, they've stayed to hear about the young brave with the magic moccasins, who talks with animals and uses his supernatural gifts to bring peace and enlightenment to his people. This 1855 masterpiece combines romance and idealism in an idyllic natural setting.
Hardcover, 172 pages
Published January 28th 2005 by (first published 1855)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Petra X
May 05, 2015 Petra X rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To gain its full flavour, this is a poem to read aloud. I read it as a child, I read it to my son when I was pregnant with him, I read it to him when I fed him as a baby and for the last time I read it to him when he was old enough to enjoy it. He didn't. He hated it, so my favourite book was put on one side, but every now and again I like to read about the West Wind and Minehaha, Laughing Water.
Nov 24, 2008 Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Kelly by: myself
I have loved the rhythm of this poem since I was a kid. I could read it over and over and over.
Apr 24, 2010 Cassie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have very mixed feelings about this poem. The actual legends and folklore on which the poem is based are fascinating, and an important part of many Native American cultures to preserve. But they don't work very well when not performed as a part of the storytelling tradition of Native American tribes, especially when the compiler uses them to set up a defense of the actiona of white colonists who forced the religions these stories grew out of to transition instead to Christianity. Bleh. And the ...more
25 JAN 2015 -- recommended by Bettie. Read this many, many years ago as a young girl in school. Together with If by Kipling, they were favorites. Thank you, Bettie, for the walk back in time.

You may read the epic poem online here --

Listen here (while available) --

Transported for two full nights into another world. Disappointed that I was not introduced to this at a younger age but also grateful that I've been able to discover it and enjoy it so thoroughly and fresh in my maturity. A poem in trochaic tetrameter that necessitates it being read aloud to fully experience its effect. Simply mesmerizing.
Jan 24, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wanda
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC Radio 4 - Drama:
This epic narrative poem, with its picturesque and highly imaginative tales, threads the many aspects of native American mythology concerning life, nature and ritual. Weaving together "beautiful traditions into a whole" as Longfellow intended.
Feb 03, 2014 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ibook, poetry
3 stars. For some reason, I didn't expect this poem to be as accurately grounded in Native American folklore/mythology and language as it was. I like Longfellow's style of poetry, which has a strong meter and rhythm. This epic poem contains Algonquin folklore which is in some places surprisingly similar to Bible stories (for example, Hiawatha's strong friend Kwa'sind whose only weak spot is in the crown of his head can't help but remind one of Sampson). Other sections are more historical, as in ...more
Feb 22, 2012 D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I read this to my young kids at bed time. Not enough farts and boogers to earn their endorsement; despite best efforts to not enjoy it, they were almost interested from time to time. I quite like the rhythm and sound of Hiawatha -- if Captain Underpants were written in the same style, perhaps my kids and I would have a happy compromise.

My copy of the book is an old reader a neighbor gave to my mother when she was a kid. I remember, she read at least the famous passage to me when I was a kid and
Ευθυμία Δεσποτάκη
Τόσα χρόνια (από όταν το είχα διαβάσει στα Κλασσικά Εικονογραφημένα) νόμιζα ότι ήταν ένα ινδιάνικο έπος. Τώρα συνειδητοποιώ ότι το έγραψε ένας λευκός; Μου χάλασε όλη την απόλαυση, όλη την επιστροφή στην παιδική ηλικία.
Feb 28, 2009 Willow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"On the shores of Gitchie Goomie, by the shining deep sea waters, stands the wigwam of Nicomus, daughter of the sea." -- is that right? Lyrical, magical; that's what I remember. It was long ago.
Dec 27, 2015 Caroline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This would be a great book to read out loud to a child. While reading, I kept wishing that it had been added to my dad's nightly bedtime reading repertoire when I was young, which primarily consisted of The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle and The Hobbit.

The meter on this poetry (called trochaic tetrameter) is immediately recognizable. The DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM da rhythm totally got into my head; I was thinking in trochaic tetrameter for days after finishing the book.

According to Longfellow, these
Susan Mortimer
Oct 27, 2009 Susan Mortimer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ages 5-105
Shelves: lis-565
Susan Jeffers’ illustrated edition of her abridgement of Longfellow’s epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha, is simply astounding. Jeffers notes in her introduction that this is a poem from which her mother read to her as a child: a poem whose “lovely imagery began to enter [her:] daydreams.” She says further that upon re-reading it as an adult, she “knew [she:] wanted to illustrate the section that [she’d:] loved as a girl.” The part of the poem Jeffers chose to abridge concerns the boyhood of Hiawat ...more
The other John
This is weird: a modern retelling of ancient tales that is pretty old itself. It wasn't old in 1855, of course, when Mr. Longfellow published his version of Native American folk-tales. It's the epic poem of Hiawatha, the wise and powerful demigod who guides and protects his people and has many an adventure. According to the introduction, Longfellow has been accused of "cleaning up" the original tales to make them more palatable to a Victorian audience. That may be so (I can't tell you from perso ...more
Jan 28, 2016 Arlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm sure it wasn't this edition, but I remember that this was one of the first things that I read in first grade!
Aug 11, 2014 Tristan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, classic
Overall, this was a very good epic poem that chronicles Native American legends. It has a pressing, easy rhythm that pulls readers along through the poem, although a couple of times, the meter forces a change in the way words are said. The biggest one for me was that "squirrel" was regularly in a position where it had to be read a a two syllable word "squirr-el", which was a bit odd, but overall, the meter was pretty effortless. I especially loved the section entitled "The Ghosts". As an added b ...more
Enni Gregas
Read #3 on my 52 in 52 quest: Another one from the to-read pile--a book I purchased years ago at a conference on YA literature. This particular edition called me because the artist-of-the-West, Frederic Remington, illustrated it. Better in book format---my beloved Kindle wouldn't have done it justice.

My personal connection to the work goes back to early childhood. Mom bought my sister Kay and me a coloring book version---think Prince Valiant type detailed drawings---I can still hear my mother an
Trishulananda Paul McMullen
Mar 13, 2016 Trishulananda Paul McMullen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had to adapt my usual approach to reading to get anywhere with this book.
First of all I had to suspend my judgement on all the "Non PC" rhetoric that's floating about out there, on the basis that these are genuine first nation american stories and they are per se interesting, however much they have been tampered with; and I have no access, currently, to the uncorrupted "Originals" (if there ever were such a thing).
Secondly it's in a crazy non rhyming verse, which is easy to follow but not
Feb 28, 2015 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I tried not to be swayed by reading any lit crit about it before diving in. I prefer coming at these things "unspoiled" as it were.

But it's kind of hard to be unspoiled about The Song of Hiawatha. I suspect we all got some exposure to it in school. The most commonly-anthologized section is just part of "Hiawatha's Childhood," which everyone knows:

By the shores of Gitchee-Gumee
By the shining big sea water
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis
Daughter of the moon Nokomis

and so forth. Actually, I'm not even g
Aug 18, 2008 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beauty, legend, love, heroism. Wouldn't change a word of it. The only thing of which I'm certain in the exasperated canon of child-rearing: read this book aloud to your kids, and they will be better for it.
Mike Jensen
I have tried repeatedly to read this, but the rhythm so cloyed that I gave up. Latest attempt to read the poem against the rhythm worked. Longfellow uses a number of time honored poetic tricks, such as repeated phrases, which goes back to Homer, and I think uses most of the tricks effectively. The story is a bit like Gilgamesh, mixing supernatural elements with the story of a great man's life. I did not find it emotionally engaging, only story engaging, but on balance I am glad I finally got thr ...more
Bcoghill Coghill
I don't know if I love this book because my mother read it to me as a child or for it's own merit. Anyway you look at it, it is a favorite.
May 19, 2014 PAUL VAUGHN rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Worth the time

I found this interesting, but had to keep in mind that it's a romanticized version of Native Americans and subsequent colonization of their land. I am also uncertain whether the terminology and mythology are purely inventions of the author. Yet I'm glad to have. become familiar with one of our country's early poets, and he does spin an exciting yarn, easy to read with its familiar rhythm. No wonder my kid brother had little trouble memorizing a stanza for class! I skipped the poems
Noran Miss Pumkin
bookstore find 8/08. reread for the first time since childhood. Beautiful illustrations!
Angel Parrish
Feb 05, 2016 Angel Parrish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry

Another classic that I can't believe it took me so long to read! How absolutely enthralling! No wonder this was required reading for so many years. Free verse poetry that tells a beautiful, captivating story. The descriptions are so specific and paint such beautiful pictures. The notes from Longfellow on how the names are accurate and the stories are all based on actual stories in Indian lore...this is absolutely mesmerizing. It would be great fun to read aloud and ac
Listened to a reading by William Hootkins. Longfellow not only translates into English and records the tales of Manabozho of the Ojibwe, but brings them into verse in a melded American story. The content is sound, but compared to the storytelling of other Native American novels, historical fiction, and oral transcriptions, it falls a little short in delivering the spirit of the tale. Instead it fell a little flat, and the last section was very forced. I also feel Hootkins may have had something ...more
Aug 21, 2011 Keith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, Hiawatha. A name known by all, a poem known by few. It is a poem justly derided, but probably beaten up a bit too much. It is true that this bestselling work (it sold more copies in 1855 than any book of poems sells today, though the nation was one-tenth the population -- think about that!) lacks in-depth character analysis and rhythmic variety.

In his defense, it appears that Longfellow was trying to (re)create an epic/ancient style in the likes of Beowulf, in which character development is
Feb 09, 2013 Scott rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last summer Michael and I traveled in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was wonderful, beautiful country, and we intend to travel there many times again in the future. Throughout the region there are references to this classic work by Longfellow. The day we kayaked on Lake Superior at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, we stopped at the visitors center for both the National Lakeshore and the Hiawatha National Forest and there I purchased my copy of Longfellow's poem.

Back in 10th grade American
Joy H.
Added 10/18/13.
I did not read the poem. Instead I watched the film described below. I found the film to be very slow-paced. It was moderately interesting. So I watched it in bits and pieces. I agree with the following viewer comments at Netflix: "Native American life portrayed in a beautiful way in an idealistic setting." ... "Not a bad movie, although the dialog was not very impressive. Nice scenery and had a good message." ... "I only watched this movie because I wanted to see Native hip-hop a
Kay Pelham
Apr 13, 2014 Kay Pelham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: with-james
I enjoyed this thorough telling of the life of Hiawatha, from his beginnings to his fading off into the sunset. I understand that Hiawatha and these events may not represent one specific individual and his life happenings, but I assume that there are many truths of events and legends of these people that are woven into this story. I appreciate the insight it gave into the lives and hopes and troubles of a very real people. There were a few elements in the story that were reminiscent of Bible hap ...more
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and "Evangeline". He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy and was one of the five members of the group known as the Fireside Poets.

Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine and studied at Bowdoin College. After spending time in Europe he became a prof
More about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow...

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“When thou are not pleased, beloved,
Then my heart is sad and darkened,
As the shining river darkens
When the clouds drop shadows on it!

When thou smilest, my beloved,
Then my troubled heart is brightened,
As in sunshine gleam the ripples
That the cold wind makes in rivers.”
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